Soldiers to the Summit Nepal

Trekking above Pheriche

The 2010 Nepal Expedition

Soldiers to the Summit Logo
A team of 11 injured veterans struggles together to achieve an objective. Some doubt their own abilities but find inspiration in their peers. Many knowledgeable onlookers say it cannot be done—overcoming life-changing injuries to move across the varied terrain in the Himalayas, the highest mountain range on the planet. Some of the team will choose to confront the steep and technically challenging snow and ice climb to the summit of Lobuche East at 20,075 feet. For others, the gauntlet of rock strewn slopes leading to the summit of Kala Pattar at 18,512 feet will be their ultimate trial. Supporting the disabled veterans was the team of experienced climbers that assisted blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer to the summit of Everest in 2001. In October 2010, the impossible was possible with the success of World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Soldiers to the Summit Nepal Expedition, a Military Initiative event.

The Dream
2010 Nepal Expedition Map

Route map for the 2010 Soldiers to the Summit Nepal Expedition. World T.E.A.M. Sports graphic.

Among the many tragedies of war are the serious injuries inflicted upon our military. When they return home, these heroes often have disabilities that seem insurmountable. The goal of World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Soldiers to the Summit Nepal Expedition was to demonstrate that great things can be achieved, no matter how high the obstacle.

The October, 2010 expedition was developed through detailed discussions between Jeff Messner, World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ CEO and President, blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer, mountaineer Jeff Evans and filmmaker Michael Brown about a satisfactory celebratory expedition for Erik and Jeff’s 2001 Everest team. On May 25 2001, 19 climbers reached the summit of Mount Everest, the most successful expedition to that time. Among the climbers was Weihenmayer, the first blind person to reach the summit of the planet’s highest peak. This remarkable achievement proved to be life-changing for each member of the team, as well as Weihenmayer. Many of these climbers have returned to Everest in the following years; between them, they reached the summit 32 times. With the tenth anniversary of their successful expedition in 2011, the team wanted to give back to their success in a meaningful way.

In early 2010, World T.E.A.M. Sports recruited and assembled a team of military men and women with disabilities who showed a deep respect and love for the outdoors. Following technical training sessions in Colorado’s high country west of Denver, in early October, the group departed for Nepal. Arriving in Nepal, team members choose between two summits. The first option was the technically-challenging rock, snow, and ice climb of Lobuche East. At 20,075 foot, Lobuche is a spectacular peak not far from Mount Everest. The second summit choice was Kala Pattar, a more moderate, 18,519 foot mountain overlooking Everest base camp. Both climbs were successful.

Through the guidance and care of the Everest climbing team, the participating disabled veterans had an adventure that few able-bodied people can imagine. The ascents were a mental and physical challenge for every participant — quite possibly, one of the greatest experiences of their lifetimes.

The expedition was documented through two films. The Pentagon Channel created “Conquering the Climb” for their Recon series, debuting in March, 2011. Michael Brown’s team produced a film, “High Ground,” which premiered in February, 2012. It was screened at festivals and special events nationally through 2012, prior to a limited theatrical release November 2. The film was released on DVD on November 6, 2012.

The Expedition Participants

The Soldiers

Steve Baskis – Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Chad Stone – Arvada, Colorado
Ashley Crandall – Washington, DC
Aaron Isaacson – Concordia, Kansas
Chad Jukes – Ouray, Colorado
Nicolette Maroulis – Austin, Texas
Cody Miranda – San Diego, California
Justin Moore – Modesto, California
Matt Nyman – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Katherine Ragazzino – San Diego, California
Dan Sidles – Emmetsburg, Iowa

The Climbers

Luis Benitez – Eagle, Colorado
Brad Bull – Denver, Colorado
Sherman Bull – New Canaan, Connecticut
Kevin Cherilla – Scottsdale, Arizona
Jeff Evans – Boulder, Colorado
Charley Mace – Golden, Colorado
Chris Morris – Boulder, Colorado

The Support Team

Michael Brown – Boulder, Colorado
Didrik Johnck – Portland, Oregon
Jeff Messner – World T.E.A.M. Sports – Castle Rock, Colorado
Kabao Messner – World T.E.A.M. Sports – Castle Rock, Colorado
Erik Weihenmayer – Golden, Colorado

The Documentary Films

Stone Circle Pictures and Serac Adventure Films have released High Ground, a feature-length documentary about the 2010 expedition. Veteran Disney Producer Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast, the Lion King, Frankenweenie) produced the film, which features a score by Hollywood composer Chris Bacon (Source Code, Space Chimps, Gnomeo and Juliet).

High Ground premiered on February 18, 2012 at the Boulder International Film Festival. Additional screenings at selected festivals and theaters across the United States were held, followed by a limited general theatrical release on November 2, 2012. The film was released on DVD by Virgil Films and Entertainment on November 6, 2012. It is available online for purchase through several vendors.

Explore the High Ground film site. Explore the official film blog from Serac Adventure Films.

The Pentagon Channel’s Recon monthly documentary series featured the short film, “Conquering the Climb” in March, 2011. Including footage of the Lobuche climb provided by filmmaker Michael Brown, the documentary explores the background and rehabilitation of the participating veterans and how the climb changed their lives. The Pentagon Channel reaches 2.6 million members of the American military worldwide.

Recon: Conquering the Climb (27:34).

2010 Expedition Photographic Galleries

Explore World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ extensive Soldiers to the Summit Flickr gallery.

View Didrik Johnck’s Soldiers to the Summit Flickr galleries: Top 100 Images, Lobuche Outtakes, High Ground Film.

2010 Expedition Media Reports

Explore World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ extensive Soldiers to the Summit Nepal Expedition media reports.

2010 Expedition Sponsors

Soldiers to the Summit 2010 Nepal Expedition Sponsors

Photographs on this page: Top, trekking above Pheriche, photograph by Didrik Johnck. Below, summer 2010 training in Colorado at St. Mary’s Glacier.

Soldiers to the Summit Training